POLITICS
01/03/2012 08:19 am ET

Mitt Romney Iowa Caucus 2012 Outlook

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is heading into Tuesday's Iowa Caucus confident about his chances of coming out on top in the Republican contest.

Romney injected $10 million into his presidential campaign in the Hawkeye State in 2008, but ultimately finished in second place behind former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. After returning to Iowa with a scaled-down operation last year, the Republican hopeful's team made moves to step up its game in the primary battleground with campaign ads and voter outreach efforts in the months leading up to caucus day.

Romney did not actively compete in the Ames Straw Poll, an early test of conservative strength in Iowa, last August.

"We're going to be better off the day after Iowa than we were before," said top Romney adviser Stuart Stevens. "I don't think it's going to turn into a sand trap."

The SuperPAC Factor

HuffPost's Paul Blumenthal reports:

"This is politics," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Dec. 21, dismissing calls for him to condemn ads attacking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that were run by an independent group supporting Romney's candidacy.

The ads were part of an unprecedented $3.3 million negative campaign of television spots and direct mail by Restore Our Future, an independent expenditure-only committee or super PAC, which blunted Gingrich's rise and may very well be the main ingredient in an Iowa victory for Romney next Tuesday.

Never before have the Iowa caucuses seen such a campaign by any group other than a candidate committee.
...
Beginning on Dec. 9, Restore Our Future let loose a negative advertising and direct mail campaign unlike anything in Iowa caucus history. In the weeks preceding the super PAC's barrage, Gingrich had vaulted into the top position in polls in Iowa and many other key primary states. By the time Restore Our Future had aired close to $3 million in attack ads, Gingrich had fallen into a four-way race for third place.

The Polls

HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal reports:

The latest poll of Iowa's likely Republican caucus-goers provides more evidence of a race headed toward a photo finish, with Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and a surging Rick Santorum running within two percentage points of each other.

The automated poll conducted by the Democratic Party-affiliated firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows Ron Paul at 20 percent, Mitt Romney at 19 percent and Rick Santorum at 18 percent on a survey for which PPP reports a margin of error for each candidate of +/- 2.7 percent. Running farther back are Newt Gingrich at 14 percent, Rick Perry at 10 percent, Michele Bachmann at 8 percent, Jon Huntsman at 4 percent and Buddy Roemer at 2 percent. PPP interviewed 1,340 likely Republican caucus goers on December 31 and January 1.
...
PPP's results and trends are mostly consistent with those on a half-dozen other polls released in the last week. HuffPost Pollster's chart, based on all public polls in Iowa, currently shows Mitt Romney leading with 22.5 percent, Ron Paul in second but fading slightly to 19.1 percent, Rick Santorum rising fast to 17.1 percent, and Newt Gingrich still falling and now at 12.9 percent.

2012-01-02-Blumenthal-PollsterEstimate01020932.png

For more on Romney's campaign, check out the slideshow below.

Mitt Romney 2012

-

CONVERSATIONS